TPWD News Release — Nov. 23, 2005
AUSTIN, Texas — The success of resource management efforts on a variety of fronts has led Texas Parks and Wildlife Department biologists to recommend several possible changes to next year’s coastal fishing regulations. Among the topics being considered include elimination of the trophy red drum and tarpon tags.
The annual regulatory review process begins each fall after resource assessments by biologists and through a review of recommendations received from various groups throughout the year. During this scoping portion of the process, TPWD gathers public input and weighs the biological implications of each issue before presenting the Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission with a set of proposed regulation changes in January.
Prior to then, TPWD staff attempt to scope the public and user groups regarding the possible changes during a series of nine upcoming public scoping meetings along the Texas coast.
Following the January commission meeting, further input will be sought through the public hearing and comment process when an actual proposed rule has been published in the Texas Register.
Following is a summary of those potential changes for coastal fisheries:
The National Marine Fisheries and the U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service have listed the smalltooth sawfish as endangered. Because of the extreme difficulty that anglers will have in distinguishing the smalltooth sawfish from the largetooth sawfish, protection of both is believed to be the only way to protect the listed species. This proposal would prohibit the taking of both.
TPWD will scope two proposals to eliminate the red drum tags. Either option would continue to ensure protection of red drum in Texas and provide the benefits of having the tags without the administrative issues of maintaining tags in the license system. The options presented are:
A proposal to eliminate the trophy tarpon tag and implement a bag limit of one fish with a minimum size limit that corresponds to the state record (87 inches) is being considered. This will allow fishermen to continue to challenge that record while preventing the retention of any other tarpon that may be caught.
TPWD also will scope a proposal similar to the tarpon recommendation of one fish above a maximum size limit (i.e., set at the state record of 52 inches) for black drum would be allowed per day.
Changing the possession limit on flounder so that it is equal to the bag limit for the recreational fishery. This is already the case in the commercial fishery. This will create some redistribution of the current catches in the recreational fishery and basically limit a person to 10 fish per trip instead of the 20 fish bag they can keep if they fish past midnight now. Part of the rationale is that since flounder mortality from the recreational and commercial harvest makes up only 18 percent of its mortality, changes in the directed fishery will not have a large impact to the overall population. Current trends in the fishery suggest that recent emphasis on shrimping effort and bycatch are starting to show signs that the flounder fishery is improving.
TPWD will scope a proposal to list tripletail as a game fish, place a minimum size limit of 17 inches and a 3 fish bag limit. Alabama has a 17-inch minimum and bag limit of three and Florida has a 15-inch limit and bag limit of two.
Currently when conducting a guided fishing trip in freshwater or saltwater, the boat limit allowed is equal to the number of paying customers on the trip multiplied by the bag limit for any species. For example, if 2 people are fishing with a guide then the boat limit may have a total of 6 red drum (2 clients times 3 fish per person) on board within the 20 to 28 inch size range. At the annual statewide public hearing there were comments from two guides associations to consider a proposal that would allow guides to keep fish when fishing for red drum or king mackerel. The proposal to allow guides to retain bag limits for red drum and king mackerel is included as a scoping issue as well.
While public comment on these issues will be accepted by email, mail or phone, scoping meeting sites have been arranged to facilitate those who prefer to comment in person.
Comments about these issues and others of interest may be made to TPWD, Regulatory Proposals Public Comment, 4200 Smith School Road, 78744, by phoning (800) 792-1112 or by visiting (http://www.tpwd.state.tx.us/)
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